Elder Law Minute: The Ambiguity of Joint Tenancy

Many older Americans like to name their adult child as a joint tenant on their bank accounts. However, having a child as a joint tenant can pose a problem when doing planning. The law says that if you have your child as joint tenant, they will inherit all the money in that account, no matter what your will says. A property power of attorney is a much better option that still allows children to help with finances.

Hi, I’m Wes Coulson and this is your Elder Law Minute. You know, a lot of older people like to name an adult child as a joint tenant on their bank accounts. Let me tell you that as an elder law and estate attorney, I have a problem with that. Want to know why? I’m in a position, a lot of times, of trying to figure out what you intended. Let me tell you what the law says that you intended. It says that regardless of what you’ve said in your will, you intended that that child was going to inherit all the money in that account. That’s what joint tenancy does when you die. Much better solution? Name somebody as power of attorney for property and put them on the accounts in that capacity. You won’t have something that trips over your will. Thanks!

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